Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Go read this article.

The parochial vicar in the parish I grew up in left the diocese (well, he is still technically attached to the diocese - just on military assignment) to become a military chaplain in the Air Force the summer before I started 3rd grade. He was a great guy. I think about him a lot, and wonder what he is doing now (he isn't near retirement age yet, as he was very young at the time - though I didn't think so when I was 8!).

I'd imagine that would be one of the toughest calls for a clergy person to have, especially in war time. I couldn't imagine having to counsel a person who just had to kill someone in the line of duty, or who saw some of the atrocities that people commit on other people, supposedly in the name of God, in this particualr war (and yes, I know it should more correctly be Allah in this case, but I'm choosing to use the Big Guy's generic name, rather than the one that Islam uses).

I've known a few other military chaplains who have served in the reserves, all of whom have been called to active duty at various times. All of them are Roman Catholic priests, and all are good men. In talking with them, every single one has said that they have been changed by their experiences in ways they just can't describe. At least one had to leave active ministry for a while to recover from PTSD.

I'm not little-miss-flag-waving-patriot-who-thinks-this-country-would-be-better-off-as-a-theocracy-run-by-the-religious-right, but I admire the men and women who take on the mission of a military chaplaincy. To be a confidant, a parental figure, a comforter, and just a human touch to military personnel is a real gift, and a real manifestation of God in the world.

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